No Casino TIF

Mayor Richard Irvin and the City Council of Aurora, Illinois


The Hollywood Casino (owned by Penn Entertainment) plans to move out of Downtown Aurora to property near the Premium Outlet mall just off of I-88. As part of the deal, Mayor Irvin wishes to create a new TIF District, which, per the City of Aurora’s estimate, will divert at least $120 Million in property taxes away from local governing bodies, including Batavia School District, Waubonsee Community College, Fox Valley Park District, Aurora Public Library, etc.

A TIF (Tax Increment Financing) District is a special zone cut out of the normal property tax map, which siphons all new property tax dollars generated by new development away from local governing bodies and into a bucket of money which, in this case, will be used almost exclusively to pay for development costs of this new casino, padding their bottom line.

Penn Entertainment (whom Irvin playfully calls Mr. Moneybags), is a massive, multi-billion dollar corporation, based in Pennsylvania whose primary concern is profit, not what is best for our community. Per their 2022 annual report, they touted earnings of $1,789,800,000. That’s billion with a B.

In 2021 alone, Penn Entertainment CEO, Jay Snowden, took home a total compensation of $65,887,214, far greater than the amount they claim to require to build this new casino.

Penn Entertainment is so flush with cash that they executed a stock buyback of $91 million on December 31, 2022. Subsequent to the year-end, they then bought an additional $31.5 million in stocks. They are further authorized to buy back an additional $867.8 million at will. They do not need our money to develop. This is a heist.

For historical perspective, the original Hollywood Casino in Aurora opened in 1993 and began paying incremental property taxes – not to taxing bodies, but into TIF #1. Due to that TIF, East Aurora Schools and the other affected taxing bodies went without any incremental property tax revenues from the old casino for 23 years.

In 2009, before the initial TIF expired, it was extended another 12 years, currently allowable by state law. Over those combined 35 years, TIF #1 diverted over $50M away from public tax bodies into an unaccountable, undemocratic pot of money.

Only in 2022, after 35 years of waiting, did East Aurora Schools and the other taxing bodies see their first dime of incremental casino property taxes. And now, as our public bodies are finally poised to benefit from the original casino, Penn Entertainment and the City want to move it to a different jurisdiction to give Penn a better return on their investment. Any promise of future tax revenues for public schools was a bluff. This company has demonstrated that they will accept your tax concessions upfront, but have no problem leaving you behind in pursuit of profits. They have demonstrated that they are not a faithful partner, and cannot be trusted in the long term.

This kind of reckless tax policy starves local governments of funding for essential public programs, contributes to the sky-rocketing income inequality in our country, and increases the tax burden on the working families in our local community.

Join us in asking the Aurora City Council to reverse course and VOTE NO on the CASINO TIF.

Petition by
Aurora, Illinois
Sponsored by

To: Mayor Richard Irvin and the City Council of Aurora, Illinois
From: [Your Name]

Esteemed representative,

TIFs do not create magical money out of nowhere as you’ve been led to believe. There is a real cost. They divert millions of dollars in property taxes from our schools, libraries, parks, city, county, and township governments.

It is a handout to the already wealthy that we cannot afford. Our property taxes are hard earned and should not be irresponsibly handed over to millionaires to further pad their pockets while Aurorans struggle.

Penn Entertainment can afford to build without public subsidy, and should do so.

You have been beguiled and misled by Penn Entertainment, but you can stop this before it is too late.

The new casino TIF is a bad deal, plain and simple. Please VOTE NO on the proposed Farnsworth-Bilter TIF District.

Your neighbor and constituent